Thousands of pensioners have been infected by the Clostridium difficile pathogen in Scotland in the last 12 months, statistics show.
Around 656 of every 100,000 patients aged 65 and over contracted the infection between October 2006 and September this year – a total of 6,035 pensioners.
The figures, published by Health Protection Scotland, are the first time the data has been collated on rates of infection in the country.
The Scottish Government has pledged £54m in funding to tackle the problem, and drawn up an action plan to reduce healthcare associated infections (HAIs).
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the study is a useful way to assess the size of the problem.
She added: “Now that we know the scale of the challenge, we can target our efforts appropriately.
“We expect all health boards to have robust policies in place to help manage C difficile.
“These should include monitoring of compliance with cleaning standards, hand hygiene, infection control precautions, prudent prescribing of antibiotics and rapid, accurate diagnosis of cases.”
But Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie said the government must consider targeting funding at specific vulnerable groups in the face of the “alarming” figures.
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